Once again, I’ve found myself at the end of another binge, watching the TV Series LOST. That’s right, I just finished all six seasons and it is, hands down, one of the greatest supernatural stories ever told on television.
And, what did I take away from my now annual juggernaut? Well, let’s talk about it…..
First off, if you have not read my first review of LOST, please head over and catch yourself up by clicking here. In this first post, you will find a detailed review of the entire series and my conclusions – what I think actually happened on that island.
For this updated review, though, will dive a little deeper, focus on some of the more metaphysical aspects of the series, its characters, and what I think we all could learn from them.
First Reason You Should Watch LOST Every Year
The first thing I discovered in re-watching the series – several episodes back to back each day – is that all the characters instinctively realize they are all dead. This story is not a haphazard attempt to garner ratings, where the writers just make things up as they go along. In fact, watching through this time around, I lost count of the times I spotted foreshadowing in the dialog. Throughout, Jack is really laying in that bamboo grove, dying from his wounds. The island itself is nothing more than a psychic delusion, triggered by Jack’s inability to come to terms with his impending mortality, coupled with his incapacity to resolve the inner demons of his real life without resorting to this elaborate manifestation.
One example of this is in Episode 505, when Charlotte tells Jin, “Don’t let them bring her back…this place is death.”
Another, in Episode 319, Locke opens the “magic box” and finds his father tied up inside. During their conversation, Anthony Cooper asks John, “Don’t you know where we are?” But, before he finishes, the door is shut. Fast forward to the scene with Cooper and Sawyer in the Black Rock. Sawyer asks Cooper how he got on the island. Locke’s father replies, “I’m driving down I-10 through Tallahasee, when somebody slams into the back of my car. I go right into the divider at 70mph, and the next thing I know the paramedic is smiling at me as they load me into the back of an ambulance. And, then, nothing. Just black. The doors open and I’m looking up at John Locke, my dead son, who’s plane crashed in the Pacific.” Sawyer shoots back, “But, we didn’t crash in the Pacific, we crashed on this island.” Cooper asks, “Are you sure it’s an island? I mean, it’s a little hot for heaven, isn’t it?” He then adds, “If this isn’t hell, friend, then where are we?”
And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. When I watch the series again next year, I plan to make a detailed list of all the references that foreshadow the reality of the show – that everything taking place is really only happening in Jack’s mind.
Second Reason You Should Watch LOST Every Year
It’s interesting how humans tend to use the supernatural, the paranormal, and suspense as a kind of coping mechanism against the banality and stresses that we find in real life.
We seek out stories that are so much bigger and grander and earth shattering than anything we’ve ever been a part of. We want ghosts to be real, even if they are massive smoke monsters that strangle people to death or smash them against rocks and trees.
It’s not happening to us, after all. We’re safe sitting in front of our tvs or lounging in a hammock as we curl up with a good book.
Beyond belief, stories have a way of reeling us in, of tantalizing us with ideas of other worlds, of out-of-the-world possibilities.
Who doesn’t want to be chased through the jungle by a polar bear, or fight a ruthless tribe of ghost-like natives, be stranded on an island with beautiful people who love you and need your help?
It’s calming to imagine ourselves in Jack’s shoes, to be the hero, to re-unite from a different timeline and re-discover buried memories of past lives and past loves.
As long as there’s plenty of Dharma food stockpiled, what could go wrong?
For the real Jack, he simply grabbed hold of any element around him and Incorporated it into his conjured world. He did this in order to work out his own life deficiencies before he died, as it was too late to make any real or lasting changes in the real world. His fate was sealed, destined to lay there in that grove, slowly but inevitably bleeding out.
And, how powerful is the mind that it can create out of nothing an entirely new world, a new story where you are the hero, and you are able to overcome all your fears and limitations?
Third Reason You Should Watch LOST Every Year
This Island is the perfect example of how universal death is for us all. There is no escaping it. There is no amount of money by which you can pay to avoid your final and dreadful end. There is also no guarantees of what comes after.
Do we cease to be?
Faith and religion and science all pretend to know the secrets, but the honest person has to admit that only the dead know with any certainty what lies beyond the veil.
No one has returned from whatever lies beyond. Ghost stories aside, there has been no definitive contact with the paranormal world (or no contact with those who have gone before us). We often guess. Charlatans often pray on the weak and the believing, but there has been no substantial, measurable, verifiable evidence of life after death. What Jack’s father termed, “moving on.”
But, if nothing else, watching LOST each year reminds us to consider the idea of our own mortality. Our own fate. That each of us – with some variety nonetheless – will succumb to their own destinies, and their own bodies will cease to sustain that which we call life.
This year I hope to write an online course about death, and how dying is the single, universal experience in our existence that shows utter impartiality to all creatures that seem, to varying degree, cognizant.
LOST is one of those rare shows that, while extremely entertaining, it also plunges the depths of our own psyche’s, in an attempt to unearth the reality that we our being hunted by the reaper that will one day reap us all.
There is no one who has reached beyond 122. Jeanne Calment maybe. Possible others few. But these I consider the outliers that prove the rule. And, despite our best efforts, man is no closer to a cure for death or disease. We don’t even have a cure for cancer yet. In fact, the physical world around us, as of late, is working just as hard in trying to kill us as we are in trying to stop it.
But, that’s okay.
It’s okay because there really – at least at this point – is no other choice. We can, like Jack did, deny our impending doom. Or, we can embrace that great mystery that is to come. We can express our fears and frustrations and foibles, and, taking the deepest of breaths, launch forward, lean into it, and enjoy all that death has to offer.
But, who can now say there is no purpose for books or movies or television shows? Maybe, in the future, our psychiatrists will be prescribing creative writing or a few hours of television a night, instead of the harmful chemicals with their often debilitating side effects.
Imagine a world where our death is a process of discovery rather than something to be feared or swept under the rug and into the back rooms like a dirty, shameful secret.
Maybe one day we might discover that the very reality we live in, the one in which we are convinced is so “real” and so “serious,” is really nothing more than a grand story of some other being’s creative mind at work – exploring and experimenting the way we do.
All I can say with certainty is, LOST has made me laugh, cry, kept my mind occupied this winter when outside it was a downpour and the wind was whipping and lightning slashed across the blackened sky.
But, through all that, LOST – this year – has made me think. It has made me face the questions I had been ignoring for too long.
Where am I going? What will life look like when I get there? What is really important? How will I account for all that I’ve said and done when it is my turn at death’s door?
Will I be filled with regrets? Will my life be so prosaic, so pedestrian, so overwhelmed with guilt that I, too, will need to imagine an entirely new tapestry of characters, of people to love me and people I can love in return? Will this world we live in today be so harsh, so demoralizing, so disastrous, that I will seek refuge in an imaginary place – my own island – where I can be the hero and save the world?
Who’s kidding who here?
I do this everyday when I sit down and work on another book, stitching scenes together, helping my characters escape the horrible situations they find themselves in.
But, hey, I have to say…it’s rather cathartic for me.
So, what does it all mean?
The topic of death can be a touchy subject for many, especially in our modern age where we have compartmentalized the dying experience from normalized society and instead seem content to have people die alone in institutional settings.
But, I often wonder when I complete my annual watch of LOST, what is it really like going through the process of death, experiencing the last few breaths before my body ceases its ability to sustain me, and I slip off ever so gently, ever so irrevocably, so inescapably, into the great and enigmatic beyond?
Are there many dying people – maybe most – creating whole radically alternate, fictional worlds in their minds, attempting, sometimes desperately, to piece together the fragments that constitute our walk from beginning to end? Will I, too, create more scenes and characters and reasons to live in the final moments as the light begins to dim?
LOST is an awakening……
It is a journey. A sober examination of those final few minutes, those indescribably rare and fleeting moments, as we go wherever it is we must inevitably go.
Every year I’m reminded to take stock in what I have, in what I’m searching for, and in what I might leave behind.
Certainly, one day, I too will lay down in a bamboo grove and will one last time close my eyes to everyone I ever loved and everything I ever knew.
One last time. I will close my eyes….
Until next year, when I dust off this incredible series from my personal digital archives, load up my media player, and settle in to experience every high and every low all over again, I leave you with the last scene in the series.
As they wait patiently in the pews, all the drama and trauma from the island and from Jack’s actual life far behind, Christian walks to the back of the church and opens the double doors wide, the brilliant, blinding, blissful light of the divine pouring in – I can’t help but wonder where it is they actually went, the one soul that fractured into so many wonderful creations.
One day I will know.
What is death?
Yet, for now, we are only left knowing that, whatever it is, it is not of this world.
What do you think of the television series LOST? Did you love it? Hate it? What is your opinion about what happens when we die? Post your comments below and tell us all about it.
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